In exclusive interviews carried by the Washington Times, George Washington says he is "deeply moved" to learn "the identity of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon" and that he is "the Messiah." Thomas Jefferson urges Americans to "follow the teachings of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon." Abraham Lincoln calls Moon "the True Parent of humanity," while John F. Kennedy says, "All of humankind and the U.N....have to accept his leadership and guidance."
The forum for the 36 late presidents -- "from the vantage point of heaven" -- was a two-page ad last week taken out by Moon's Unification Church, whose members own the paper. This has caused some cringing at the Times, which usually limits itself to interviewing politicians who are alive.
Spokeswoman Melissa Hopkins says that as with any advertiser, "our general principle is allowing people to exercise their freedom of speech." Managing Editor Francis Coombs says he ignores the ads because "I'm responsible for news content."
The Rev. Phillip Schanker, a church spokesman, says he called "the advertising department, asked what their rates are, paid those rates like anybody else. We did not work any inside deal." He says the church -- which has claimed to have received messages from the likes of Jesus, Buddha, Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin -- hopes to place such ads in other newspapers.